Retiring jerseys has been a common practice by sport franchises to commemorate players who have left an important mark in a certain sport, along with championship titles for the school they played for.
DLSU has its own list of retired jerseys. A member of the NCAA and UAAP for 57 and 26 years, respectively, La Salle has consistently grown its sports programs, and has dominated several sports championships.
But despite the number of athletes who have changed the their respective sports, only four jerseys numbers to date have been retired. These jerseys are from Kurt Bachman, Lim Eng Beng, Ren-Ren ‘The Rainman’ Ritualo, and Manilla Santos.
Vice Chancellor for Lasallian Mission and Alumni Relations Br. Bernie Oca FSC explained the criteria the University uses in retiring athlete’s jersey. He shared, “They played their heart and soul, and have raised the bar of the sport; relive the Animo and have exemplified the traits of a Lasallian athlete. About the time they are finished [playing], they will be remembered as one of the figures of the team throughout their years of playing.”
The big four
In the late 1950s, Kurt Bachman was the catalyst of DLSU’s third NCAA championship in 1956. The two-time NCAA MVP was a part of several Philippine national teams from 1958 to 1962, including the team that competed in the 1960 Rome Olympics. He was known for his inside presence in the court, and has earned the moniker, ‘Hook Shot Artist’. His jersey number 33 was the first number to be retired by DLSU.
Donning jersey number 14, Lim Eng Beng is the most natural scorer in La Salle history, and he has a two-time NCAA MVP in five NCAA seasons reputation to match. He holds the NCAA all-time record of most points scored in a single game at 55 points, en route to a 32 points per game (ppg) average, an NCAA all-time best. Eventually, he was dubbed as one of the PBA’s 25 Greatest Players during the league’s silver year in 2000.
Ren-Ren Ritualo, who played in five UAAP seasons for the Green Archers from 1997 until 2001, does not come short of the aforementioned players in terms of his number of supporters. He made a name for himself in every league he joined— University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP), Philippine Basketball League (PBL), and currently in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) as a member of Air21 Express under former DLSU Coach Franz Pumaren.
In his collegiate years in the UAAP, Ritualo, together with Coach Pumaren, helped DLSU record a four-peat from 1998 until 2001. He is famous for his lethal three-point shooting, especially in clutch. During his best years, he was dubbed by many as the heir of the legendary sharpshooter Allan Caidic. Ritualo’s jersey number 4 was the third jersey to be retired by DLSU, and the last jersey to be worn by a Green Archer.
Finally, Manilla Santos, who played in four UAAP seasons for the Lady Spikers between 2002 and 2009, was the last Lasallian athlete and the first non-basketball and female athlete whose jersey was retired. A recipient of the Best Receiver award, she was a vital cog for the team, which recorded a three-peat from Seasons 66 to 68 and Season 71. Due to her invaluable contribution, she was dubbed as the DLSU’s Lady Spiker of all time.
The Office of Sports Development (OSD) recommends players for jersey retirement. The process starts with a request and with consultation with the alumni and sports patrons. The request is then sent to the Vice Chancellor for Sports Development.
Br. Bernie Oca FSC disclosed that there are no formal discussions in deliberating possible candidates. When it does, it happens very rarely. Br. Bernie added, “It really happens only when we’re able to pinpoint or identify someone who is worthy of getting that retirement.”
The Vice Chancellor for Lasallian Mission and Alumni Relations has the absolute power to veto the decision of the OSD should the athlete fail to meet the requirements of jersey retirement. Br. Bernie is, however, receptive to suggestions.
DLSAA Sports Hall of Fame
Aside from jersey retirement, athletes and coaches are also recognized for their invaluable contributions to DLSU’s sports programs. Athletes even in non-UAAP sports are welcome to be inducted into the DLSAA Sports Hall of Fame as long as the candidate meets the criteria.
According to Br. Bernie, Coach Franz Pumaren is already inducted in the Coach Hall of Fame of DLSU Alumni..
Since the retirement of Santos’ jersey in 2009, several names have been afloat for jersey retirement. Br. Bernie, however, added that the retirement process is as long as the recommendation process. The process undergoes many stages before any athlete’s jersey is retired.
He said, “We review it, [take a] look at the history and the player’s contribution then decide. So now, we’re saying that we’ll look at few years after their finish, and then we evaluate because sometimes what happens is it can become very emotional.”
Two-time UAAP Finals MVP Charleen Cruz, who became a vital part of the Lady Spikers’ four championships in her five UAAP seasons, is one of those athletes being considered.
Br. Bernie added, “I have also seen Cha Cruz’ contributions, let’s give us some time to become objective,”
Currently, the University is not thinking of retiring a jersey anytime soon, but several names are being considered in Women’s Basketball and Women’s Football.